January 04, 2017 09:53
The daughter of President Park Geun-hye's crony Choi Soon-sil appeared in a Danish court on Monday to deny she knew anything about her mother's shenanigans.
Korean ambassador to Denmark and other Korean officials were present in the court in the northern Danish city of Aalborg as Chung Yoo-ra answered questions about her role in the massive corruption scandal that has brought down Park.
Chung responded in halting English through an interpreter.
She admitted that Samsung bought her a pure-bred horse but claimed she is merely an equestrian who was completely oblivious to any influence-peddling that may have prompted the conglomerate's generosity. "Mom did everything. I don't know anything," she told the court.
She said her son, who was with her when she was arrested, is 19 months old. "The father left when the baby was 11 months old and has not been in touch," she added. Asked if there is anyone to care for the child, Chung said, "There's nobody."
"I am only worried about my baby. If [Korean] police allow me to be with my baby, I am willing to return any time," she added.
Chung was given two 10-minute breaks during the hearing, during which she responded to questions from Korean reporters despite being told by court officials that she did not have to.
When reporters asked her about her underhand admission to the prestigious Ewha Womans University and good grades for classes she did not attend, she said, "I asked mom to withdraw my name from the school, but that request was not granted."
"I came to Germany right after I had my baby so I had no idea who my professor was or other information," she added. "I thought I would automatically be kicked out of school because of my poor attendance record."
She claimed she met Ewha professors in 2016 and does not know how she achieved the passing grades.
On allegations that she was the beneficiary of around W8 billion from Samsung through a paper company she and her mother owned in Germany, Chung said, "I simply signed a paper with post-its [concealing important sections] so I wasn't aware of the contents (US$1=W1,206)."
She also denied any knowledge of why Samsung bought her the horse, which cost more than W1 billion, saying a former executive of the Korean Equestrian Federation, Park Won-oh, told her she would be one of six dressage athletes sponsored by the conglomerate. "I accepted it when Samsung abruptly said it was taking back the horse and car" when the scandal erupted last autumn.
Chung also denied stashing away a huge slush fund in overseas accounts and claimed she paid all her taxes both in Korea and in Germany.
Asked if her mother told her anything about the president's whereabouts during the so-called "missing seven hours" when the ferry Sewol sank in April 2014, Chung said she had no knowledge of such matters.
"The last time I saw President Park was when my father worked with her and I was in elementary school," she said. Her father, Choi's ex-husband Chung Yoon-hoi, was a top aide to Park when she started in politics in 1998.
When the judge decided to extend her detention until Jan. 30, Chung sighed deeply. She immediately appealed, but the court swiftly turned down the appeal and said it is willing to let her go before the expiry of the detention period if she wants to go to Korea.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday ordered Chung to turn in her passport in a bid to pressure her to return home and face investigators. If she fails to turn it in by Jan. 9 it will be automatically canceled, which would make her an illegal alien in Denmark.
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